13th Cavalry Regiment
2-13th Cavalry Home Page
This page is dedicated to the memory of the 13th Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd Medium Tank Battalion
The 13th Cavalry Regiment was first established in the U.S. Army February 2, 1901. It was later activated on May 1 of the same year at Ft. Meade, South Dakota. Following brief service in the west, the 13th served two tours in the Philippines. The first was from 1903 to 1905 and the second from 1909 through 1910. Returning from the Philippines, the 13th served along the U.S.-Mexico border 1911-1921. In its early years, the unit was also designated the 13th Horse.
The Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa and his men raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico on March 9, 1916. Four troops of the 13th were stationed at Camp Furlong, a short distance from the town. While they were taken by surprise by Villa, the 13th Cav troopers, under the command of Col. Herbert J. Slocum drove the attackers back across the border killing over 100 raiders during the engagement. A pursuit force organized under Major Frank Tompkins chased the raiders 15 miles into Mexico until a shortage of ammunition and water forced their return to base.
President Woodrow Wilson authorized prompt retaliation for the raid by Villa and ordered General John J. Pershing to lead what became known as the Punitive Expedition. On March 16, a large American force under Pershing's command entered Mexico on a mission to Capture Pancho Villa. The point unit was the 13th Cav with Major Tompkins in command. The 13th's advance took it as far south as San Antonio, the southernmost advance of the American forces. When the troops were withdrawn from Mexico, the 13th provided rear guard security. As such, it was the first into Mexico and the last out.
13th Cavalry remained in the States during and after WWI, serving at different posts and eventually becoming a part of the 7th Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized) . The unit served as a pioneer for the Army's future armored force.
The 13th Cav was re-designated the 13th Armored Regiment (Light) on July 15, 1940 and attached to the 1st Armored Division at Ft. Knox. It participated in several maneuvers in the summer and fall of 1941 and returned to Ft. Knox and re-designated the 13th Armored Regiment on December 7, 1941.
The 13th conducted further training at Ft. Knox, then, under the command of Col. Paul Robinett, moved with the rest of 1st Armored Division to Ft. Dix, NJ, arriving April 10, 1942. The 13th left the port of New York for Europe on May 13, 1942, arriving in Northern Ireland June 11, that year. Further training was conducted with the M3 Stuart light and the M3 Grant medium tanks.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions of 13th Armored participated in Operation Torch in North Africa November 8, 1942 as a part of CCB, 1st Armored Division. The units came ashore west of Oran, Algeria and meeting only light resistance from Vichy French forces, occupied Oran two days later. Other units of the 13th arrived in North Africa December 21st. 13th Armored, under the command of Col. Clarence E. Benson, moved east into Tunisia where it had its first encounter with German forces.
The Allies defeated the Axis forces which surrendered in Tunisia May 13, 1943. However, 13th Armored suffered heavy losses at Sbeitlia, Kasserine Pass at the hands of battle hardened Afrika Korps troops. The regiment's light and medium tanks including the M4 Sherman proved inferior to the German MK IV and MK VI tanks.
Following the engagements with and the surrender of Axis forces, 13th rested, was refitted and continued training in preparation for operations in Italy. Lead elements of 13th Armored landed at Salerno September 9, 1943 with the rest of the regimental units arriving in October. When Fifth Army's drive to Rome stalled in the fall and winter of 1943, LTG Mark Clark ordered VI Corps to conduct amphibious landings at Anzio January 1944 in order to circumvent the Germans' Gustaf Line. CCB of 1st Armored Division including 13th Armored stayed with II Corps in the fighting around Cassino.
13th Armor was later dispatched to Anzio May 1944 to participate in the breakout of Allied forces which had been stalled on the beachhead. The action was launched May 23rd and 13th sustained heavy losses in tanks from enemy mines and guns. After the breakout, the Allies advanced rapidly towards Rome. Companies A and H of the 13th Armored were among the first units to enter Rome on June 4. The 13th remained with the 1st Armored Division in its continued attack north until reaching Lake Bracciano.
As the 1st Armored Division became part of Fifth Army Reserve and underwent reorganization in July 1944, 13th Armored was broken up on July 20. The regiment's Headquarters Company, Service Company, and Companies D, E, and F were re-designated as 13th Tank Bn.; 3rd Bn. and Maintenance Company as the 4th Tank Bn.; and the 13th's Recon Company as Troop D, 81st Cavalry Recon bSquadron, Mechanized. The remaining units were disbanded.
As the Allies continued north in Italy against strong and determined German resistance, terrain denied the maximum use of tanks. Yet elements of the former 13th Armored Regiment took one German position after another and by May 2, 1945 when German forces in Italy surrendered, the 13th Tank Battalion was just shy of the Swiss border.
After WWII, the 4th and 13th Tank Battalions were converted to the 72nd and 13th Constabulary Squadrons May 1946 . After serving occupation duty, the units were inactivated September 20, 1947.
There were several periods of activation, reorganization, and inactivation in the 1950's in which units of the former 13th Armored were consolidated and re-designated as the 13th Cavalry under the CAR system.
The 2nd Medium Tank Bn., 13th Cavalry Regiment was reorganized and assigned to Spearhead in October 1957. Prior to its reactivation, it was designated the 709th Tank Bn. Ed Call remembers joining D Co. 709th as a Corporal in June 1955. He was part of the cadre that participated in reactivation of the 3rd AD at Ft. Knox.
The 709th as part of 3AD left for Germany in June 1956 and arrived at Ayers Kaserne in late July. The tank park was a 'mud hole' and the concrete stalls and pads were constructed later. Within two months, the 709th was at Graf, its members training on the M48 A1's. Ed and his fellow soldiers remained on as aggressor troops for the entire division.
By February of 57, Ed was a non-commissioned officer and participated with the 709th at the 'big shoot' at Belsen.
Over 100 of its soldiers fired on the Belsen-Hohne tank ranges in April, 1957, scoring 369.35, the second highest among Division battalions. The unit rifle team set a new Division record in July, notching 1740 out of a possible 2000 points in the 7th Army Postal Telegraphic Matches.
In October of 1957, the 709th held a changing of the colors ceremony and became the 2nd medium tank battalion, 13th Cav.
The overall excellence of the 13th Cav was recognized in November when Lt. General Bruce L. Clarke, then 7th Army CG, presented the unit with a 7th Army Superior Unit Award.
13th Cav continued to distinguish itself as a 3AD unit, and as a good neighbor to the many communities surrounding its home at Ayers Kaserne.
Many who served with the 709th/13th Cav remember acute manpower shortages in the late 50's. Here again, Ed Call's excellent memory serves to explain some of those shortages. First, a good number of men assigned to the 709th and throughout 3AD in 1956 were draftees and their terms expired in 1958. In addition, the Army had encouraged the 'buddy' system of enlistment for RA's and their enlistments expired in late 1957 and into 1958. The buddy system served to bring large groups into the Army at one time, and also caused large groups to depart at one time. The two factors had not been well planned for by the Army and resulted in a drop in enlisted/drafted personnel which carried over into the early 60's. Thus the lack of full tank crews during a critical period.
13th Cav was re-designated 13th Armor on February 3, 1962 with the 1st and 2nd Battalions assigned to 1st Armored Division at Ft. Hood, Texas. Those battalions were relieved of that assignment in 1971 and re-assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division which had recently arrived at Ft. Hood from Vietnam and was reorganized from air assault to heavy armor. 2nd Battalion, 13th Armor was inactivated April 24, 1973. In March 1987, it and 4th Battalion were activated and assigned to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
2nd Battalion was again inactivated early in 1996. However, 13th Armor continued its tradition of service to the country in Bosnia in 1997, Operation Desert Spring in 2002, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 as part of the 3rd Infantry Division. The unit was on station in Iraq until April 2, 2004 when it returned to the U.S.
Present Army plans (2007) call for 13th Armor to convert back to 13th Cavalry with 1st and 2nd Squadrons slated to serve as reconnaissance squadrons in the 1st Armored Division.
Unit Crest and Coat of Arms-From the Department of the Army
Distinctive Unit Insignia. Description: A Gold color metal and enamel device 1 1/4 inches (3.18 cm) in height overall consisting of two Cavalry sabers in saltire Proper, overall a sun in splendor Or charged with the numerals “13” Sable. On a scroll Or suspended from the hilts of the sabers the motto “IT SHALL BE DONE” Sable. All within a wreath of cactus on dexter side, palm on sinister side, Proper.
Symbolism: The sun in splendor is taken from the flag of South Dakota; the wreath shows the Philippine and Mexican Border service.
Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 13th Cavalry Regiment on 30 August 1922. It was re-designated for the 13th Armored Regiment (Light) on 6 September 1940. It was re-designated for the 13th Armored Regiment on 26 March 1942. It was re-designated for the 13th Medium Tank Battalion on 12 January 1953. The insignia was re-designated for the 13th Cavalry Regiment on 21 April 1958. It was re-designated for the 13th Armor Regiment on 31 January 1962. The insignia was re-designated for the 13th Cavalry Regiment with description updated on 23 May 2007.
Coat of Arms.
Crest: Two cavalry sabers in saltire Proper, overall a sun in splendor Or, charged with the numerals “13” Sable. All within a wreath of cactus on dexter side, palm on sinister side Proper.
Motto: IT SHALL BE DONE.
Crest: The sun in splendor is taken from the flag of South Dakota; the wreath shows the Philippine and Mexican Border service.
Background: The coat of arms was originally approved for the 13th Cavalry Regiment on 14 June 1920. It was re-designated for the 13th Armored Regiment (Light) on 6 September 1940. It was re-designated for the 13th Armored Regiment on 26 March 1942. It was re-designated for the 13th Medium Tank Battalion on 12 January 1953. The insignia was re-designated for the 13th Cavalry Regiment on 21 April 1958. It was re-designated for the 13th Armor Regiment on 31 January 1962. The insignia was re-designated for the 13th Cavalry Regiment on 23 May 2007.
Source Notes: Extensive use was made of material generously provided by Mr. Matt Seelinger of the Army Historical Foundation in constructing the history of the 13th Cavalry.
Veterans with history or pictures relating to 2-13 Cavalry may forward them to Rudy Rau: firstname.lastname@example.org MAKE SURE TO MENTION 3AD 13TH CAV IN TITLE LINE